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Thursday, March 17, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Pitt 74, UNC Asheville 51

By Dana O'Neil


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A quick look at Pittsburgh’s 74-51 win over UNC Asheville.

Overview: UNC Asheville threatened to continue the afternoon’s run of wild games and upsets but the Bulldogs couldn’t pull the ultimate upset. Pittsburgh eventually proved too tough, especially on the glass, and kept alive the NCAA tournament’s perfect streak for No. 1 seeds.

Turning point: Up only 32-29, Ashton Gibbs drained a 3-pointer, igniting a 10-0 run for Pittsburgh. Though the Bulldogs refused to go quietly, that distance proved enough to allow the Panthers to ultimately exhale and advance.

Key player: Gibbs. Overshadowed in the loss to Connecticut thanks to Kemba Walker’s buzzerbeater (he had 27 in that game), Gibbs got his spotlight back here. He scored 26 points on 9 of 17 shooting, torching UNCA from the outside, where he was 6 of 10.

Key stat: The Panthers owned the Bulldogs on the glass. They had a critical 44-24 advantage that allowed Pitt to overcome a sluggish start.

Miscellaneous: Matt Dickey’s run in the NCAA tournament might be over, but the UNC Asheville junior made a few fans along the way. The guard plays like he believes no one can guard him and he’s not entirely wrong. Dickey had 21 points in the losing effort. … It goes without saying that Pitt is going to have to play a lot better in its next game. Butler, the Panthers' next opponent, plays terrific defense and won’t give Pittsburgh anything.

What’s next: The Panthers will meet Butler on Saturday. Plenty of people have circled this as a potential upset pick and it’s not a crazy thought. Both teams play great defense and have on-court and NCAA experience. Should be an entertaining one.